Drinking and Diving: Koh Phangnan, Koh Tao, and Super Bowl Champions
There’s no better greeting to a country than to have your junk grabbed by a lady boy while he/she deftly slips her hand down your pants and steals your money. That’s how Piggy got his first taste of Thailand. A little past midnight, fresh off the plane, we grabbed some beers and made the walk from Rambuttri Road to the neighboring Khao San Road. In retrospect, Piggy probably made the perfect target with his bright blue shoes and almost pink skin revealing that he had not been in Thailand long. (Everyone wears sandals and usually has some sort of base tan going on.) The lady boy went straight for his junk, uninvited, and I couldn’t refrain from laughing. Somehow this only seemed appropriate to happen to Piggy. A moment later, Piggy realized that his money was gone from his pocket and we demanded the lady boy to give it back. God only knows where he/she had stuck it because we couldn’t find it in his/her purse or pockets and were unwilling to search any nether regions over the equivalent of $30.
The next day I introduced Piggy to some of the local street food. By this point I had more noodles in me than a Thai hooker from all of the delicious pad tai gai and pad see ew offered on every street. We grabbed an overnight bus to Surat Thani and then took a ferry to Koh Phangnan to take part in one of the legendary full moon parties. That night, we downed some Sang Som (Thai whiskey) and Hong Thong (Thai who knows what, just says blended spirits) along with some White Sharks (Thai energy drink), threw on ridiculous outfits we didn’t mind destroying, and hopped in a truck taxi to head to Had Rinn.
The 40 minute taxi to Had Rinn was done in record time, with our driver accelerating through hairpin turns and pushing the pedal to the floor going down hills. I wouldn’t be surprised if the driver had partaken in some of the drugs running rampant around the island as I later saw a driver snorting cocaine off his dashboard to keep awake. The girl next to me on the taxi was enjoying her time with Molly and would not stop pulling on my beard; I knew that this night was going to be full of sloppy people.
The full moon party lived up to its billing as a shit show. The number of people on the stretch of beach was staggering with tens of thousands of people dancing, wandering around, and tripping (both on drugs and on their faces). I lost Piggy and the girls pretty early on in the night and wound up bouncing around different bars, climbing on top of some to plunge down the water slides they had set up. With the sun about to come up, I decided to throw in the towel and caught a cab back to Haad Yao where our place was around 7am. Unfortunately, there was a sign identical to the Haad Yao divers outside our place about 2 km up the road. When I saw it, I shouted for the cabbie to stop and hopped out, not realizing my mistake and having to make the 2km journey on foot. In retrospect, this probably helped to stave off a hangover and allowed for an early morning ocean swim.
After another night on Koh Phangnan, we took a ferry to the neighboring Koh Tao, Turtle Island. Having been to Koh Tao two years prior for diving, Piggy and I signed up to get our Advanced Open Water certifications. That night we watched an amazing fire poi show on the beach and crushed a couple of buckets. Swing dancing with a hysterical Irish girl well into the night, I made it back to the room around 6 to find it empty. Two hours later Piggy stumbled in and we were both awoken to a banging on our door. “Wake up you lazy bums!”. It was already 11 and our instructor Neu was ready to get started.
Later that day we did the first of our five dives, a computer dive. Our next dive was a navigation dive where we had to use our compasses to find our way back to the boat. Both dives were filled with coral reefs, multicolored fish, and the occasional sting ray. After dinner that night we hopped back onto the boat for our night dive. Descending down to the ocean floor under light of a flashlight was an out of this world experience. At one point, we all turned our flashlights off and the world descended into pitch black. As we moved our arms around, the phosphorescent photo plankton lit up, leaving a sparkling trace of all our movements. I had experienced the photo plankton phenomenon in India but it was a completely surreal experience underwater. We also saw many more sting rays and eels active during the night.
The next morning we completed our deep dive, going down to 30m at the Chumpon Pinnacle. This was my favorite dive aside from the night dive as it offered some cool little caves to pass through, a couple of rock walls, and larger schools of fish. Our fifth and final dive was a wreck dive where we explored a sunken ship with some mean looking artillery guns mounted to the bow and stern. With our dives completed and our certifications in hand, we stuck around the paradise of Koh Tao for one more day and cruised around on some motorbikes.
Koh Lanta was our next stop and turned out to be a very relaxed island on the Adaman side of Thailand. We spent two days here relaxing, cruising on motorbikes, and taking in Six Nations rugby matches over pints of Irish Ale.
Back on the mainland, we hit up Krabi for a couple of days.
Most notably here we watched the glorious Super Bowl XLVII. The night before the Super Bowl, we picked up a bottle of whisky for some early morning good luck shots, which we downed around 5:30 am. Venturing over to the local Irish pub, we saw a couple of people waiting for the pub to open up, including an awesome Englishman named Cosmo who was a huge Ed Reed fan. Downing beers and getting rowdy, the Ravens put an early hurting on the 49ers, with frequent chest bumping going around. At halftime, Brian, an American who owned a bar down the street that wasn’t open for the Super Bowl, brought a giant bucket of chicken wings, providing a greasy taste of home.
During halftime Piggy and I raced back to the room to grab the whisky and we made our own whisky cokes the rest of the game, the owners of the bar were super chill. During the blackout and time outs, Cosmo and I took on his other friends in foosball. With a mandatory shot every three goals, everyone in the bar was nice and tipsy by the time it came down to the goal line stand in the fourth quarter. Urging our boys on every play, we exalted in every incompletion and went crazy when the final whistle blew. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Co. Super Bowl champions. Damn it feels good.
Since it was before noon by the time the game ended, we all ventured down to Brian’s bar and watched a taped version of the most recent UFC fight. Betting on every fight, it was good for my wallet that I won each time but it probably wasn’t too good for my liver. By 3:00, a nap was definitely in order and I fell asleep thinking about all my friends back home that were most likely rioting on the streets.